May has flown by in a hurry and I’ve had my hands full of crochet hooks! I also celebrated my 26th birthday this week and while I have lots to share with everyone — the number one thing is that my parents got me a little French vintage sheep toy that is too cute!
Look at that cutie! I haven’t decided on a name yet but I do love him to death already.
This past weekend, back in Boston obviously, was the Massachusetts Sheepshearing Festival out in Waltham at Gore Place. Similar to the recent Woolapalooza event there were sheepshearing demonstrations of both the electic and old-school variety. There were also sheep — everywhere!
Look how cute that little guy is after he got his haircut! It’s interesting because some people I’ve met in the yurt process don’t know that sheepshearing in fact doesn’t hurt the sheep — they are just getting their hair shorn off and given the timing of the shearings it’s pretty in keeping with them needing to cool off in the summer time.
The gray ones are pre-shearing and the white ones are post-shearing and, look, they’re all okay!
As some of you will notice this is the same sheep shearer as was at Woolapalooza — he is awesome. He works so fast but is very delicate with the sheep and very calm, they don’t resist whatsoever, I think they kind of like it.
There were also Alpacas, baby goats, little lambs, etc. It was a very animal-centric day!
And look at all that beautiful roving! It was all I could do to not steal it…though with those colors I’m sure I would have been caught. We also saw a neat sheepherding demonstration but I think the puppies were tired by the time we got to them! Overall the whole day was great, it was gorgeous out here in Boston and it was great to spend a day with my mom and dad again! My dad even bought me, for my upcoming birthday, a “piggie bank” that is actually a “sheepie bank” — it’s so cute!
When I left for Morocco I knew that I’d be meeting with the weavers in Midelt that Nest works with on product design and development but I never really stopped to think where their wool came from until we got there. It turns out that Hayat and her cooperative don’t own their own sheep but get their wool from a nearby town, clean it themselves in basins and then weave it. Despite this…we saw a lot of sheep action and wool techniques on our trip!
In Fes we saw this place where they were skirting wool and getting it ready for weaving. Unlike how I skirt, they just had an oversized hand rake and went after it — much more efficient!
What a machine!
I think I’m going to make myself one of these little handtools. They seem awesome!
We saw sheep along every road we drove — which was a lot of road. Sometimes they were crossing, sometimes they were just hanging by the side but everyone had a shepherd and sometimes, they’d bring a lamb and put it in our bus.
That’s my friend Penni, holding a little lamb when we stopped by the side of the road — totally normal.
The sheep had wonderful places to live — each region’s climate and topography was so different it was great to drive from place to place and see as much as possible though Tim claimed we needed another six weeks to see it all!
I’m back from Morocco and had the most amazing trip! I traveled around with 14 women from Nest and two Peace Corp Volunteers, Brian and Tim and just fell in love with the country. Everyone was unbelievably nice, I felt super safe, we saw amazing things, we danced, laughed, cried, ate, drank…it was epic! One of the highlights for me though was meeting this amazing little felter in Marrakech!
This man wet felts indoors, crouched up like that, making hats, slippers, necklaces, handbags, etc. He spoke amazing English and was happy to discuss technique. I asked him if he ever used bubble wrap to felt but he said he preferred to agitate the wool just with his fingers but that a bunch of French women had asked him the same thing!
He had a small shop filled mostly with 100s of hats! They came in all colors, some had spiney things coming out of them, they were wonderful. Had it not been 85 degrees out I might have bought one!
The day I visited he was making slippers. They were thick and looked a bit like Converse with the backs cut off. They were mostly brown with some color built in and it looked like he had a great system for cranking them out! Now I need him to come to NH and help me with the yurt!
Look how cute they are! And you feet just slide right in. I ended up buying a necklace for my mom that was big felt beads with embroidered patterns on the outside — I will be replicating that at home soon too. I told him about the yurt. I’m not sure he believed me…but I’m used to that reaction by now.
This was his little sign above his store in the local Artisana. While he wasn’t directly a part of the craft fair that our loan recipients were involved with while we were there I’m sure he got some great business from all the foot traffic. He was so sweet, I could have felted with him all day! Now, just wait for all the sheep pictures!
Yurt lovers, I’m taking a vacation! This crochet-aholic will be spending the next 10 days in Morocco visiting with local artisans who are the beneficiaries of Build a Nest’s micro-loans. I have a feeling I’ll get a lot of mini yurts made on my 14 hours of flying in the next few days and I also have a feeling I’ll be returning with many more craft materials than anyone could imagine.
While the above is not a yurt Morocco also has a nomadic heritage and I’m sure I’ll be seeing some pretty cool transportable dwellings in the desert and in the mountains — we’ll be all over! On the rewards front I’m happy to report that over 45 packages have done out — with more to ship when I’m home! Some people are even blogging about receiving them, which warms my heart! If you haven’t gotten yours yet, keep your eyes peeled!
Yesterday, Cady (yurtern), my friend Leah and I went to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to attend their annual Woolapalooza — an educational day all about wool, how it gets from animal to sweater, and more. We met some cute sheep, some new lambs, and saw live shearing and skirting too!
This guy was an awesome shearer with those old school scissors — no buzzer here!
Pre-haircut and post-haircut from left to right.
I love lambing season — they are the cutest and so soft and little. These guys had a heatlamp to keep them warm on an unreasonably cold day!
As these guys weren’t the stars of the show they took a time out to nap — synchronized napping is clearly their sport 🙂
Cady and Leah bundled up for the day!
These goats were also in sync as they watched the shearing from afar. I bet they were happy they weren’t getting their haircut while 100s of people watched! All in all it was an awesome Saturday — there were little shops in the horse stalls that I got a beautiful scarf at and we got to scope out some angora bunnies too along with other little rodents in the Drumhill Farm Underground habitat. Last but not least they were serving locally sourced chili, amazing cookies and cocoa — the families attending were all very excited!
I know many of my donors have been itching to get their hands on their mini yurts and now, many of them have! The last two weekends have been heavily committed to getting the single mini yurts out for delivery, which became a multi-step process. First I got locally sourced and spun wool from Harrisville Designs. Then I crocheted the minis, wrapped them in roving, put them in little boxes, tied those up in a bow, wrapped them in craft paper, adhered the custom yurt labels my mom made me to them, addressed them, stamped them and got them to the post office!
Today, when I stop by the post office the last six of the minis will be heading out to their new homes! Then it’ll be on to developing the packaging to ship the larger wall art pieces made of minis too! It’s an exciting time over at Yurt Alert HQ 🙂 While in NH working on this with my mom she also had a beautiful number of daffofils from the UK in the house in Ball jars — so pretty I had to post that as well.
Not only do I love this John Mellencamp-inspired yurt pun BUT it’s also the title of the piece about my project in the latest issue of Vogue Knitting! I did an interview with Cheryl a while ago for Yarn Market News…or so I thought! I’m so thrilled at this — it’s so so wonderful — and to wake up to others being so excited for me was just beyond!
Cheryl hit the nail right on the head — I don’t really have an explanation for how I was able to reach my fundraising goal by the cutoff time and it is entirely thanks to all the people who believe that this is a cool project that I can complete!
Above is the clip from the magazine which I ran out an bought this morning! Yay for the yurt!
I feel good about my commitment to National Crochet Month as I’ll be spending most of my free time crocheting away in the land of mini-yurts but more importantly I didn’t know that it was National Crochet Month until today sadly — thanks be to Molly Made for my crochet-ucation!
The Crochet Guild of America, which I need to join asap, is having a Crochet Along all month this month so I’m excited to a) join and b) use my mini yurt project as my project of choice and hopefully revel in the inspiration and support of other crocheters all through the month! Perhaps I’ll host a Crochet Along party — anyone in Boston interested?
Today I made some major headway on the yurt’s donor rewards because I had the energy and extra hands of my new yurt intern, Cady! As of last weekend I had finished all of the individual mini-yurt gifts and had begun work on the sets of 15…but still had hundreds more mini yurts to go! Today, Cady came over around 1 and with the help of delicious pizza from Picco downstairs we managed to finish 4 sets of 15! Many were already done but I finally had time to sew them all together into wonderful pieces of wall art!
Cady is a fibers major at Mass Art, which is one of the coolest art schools there is. I’m probably one of the world’s worst teachers but she caught onto the min yurt “pattern” in no time after I failed to explain my process correctly — seriously, worst teacher. Thank goodness crochet has some regularity and predictability to it!
Look how beautiful they are! So exciting!
Get ready donors — these awesome pieces are coming your way soon!